ARTHUR’S SEAT

I planned to do something, and I went and did it, walking up Arthur’s Seat during my recent stay in Edinburgh.

It’s a hill in Edinburgh, not particularly demanding, but far from easy.

I’d always heard people talking about it, and walking it, so I decided to have a go myself.

I set aside a morning to do this. I decided I would get up early. When I say early, I mean early, my taxi dropping me off just after 6am.

The reason for this, my logic being is that the roads would be clear for my taxi, and there wouldn’t be many people around.

Arthur’s Seat is based in Holyrood Park. I’d seen signs all over the city for Holyrood Park but never really knew where it was. Turns out it’s a very big park.

Thankfully, my Taxi Driver was very knowledgeable when I asked to be dropped off at the start. He took me from my accommodation in Sciennes to an entrance just after the Royal Commonwealth Pool.

I decided to see how far I could get in 30 minutes, turns out I was near the top, so I just continued my journey.

When I reached the top, I was disappointed to learn (Just a joke, I already knew) that there wasn’t a seat in Arthur’s Seat. I really needed one.

I just stood and look over Edinburgh, it was wonderful, I could look over the entire city, with clear views. The only downside was that it was a bit of a rubbish sunrise.

I could even see Easter Road, the first in what might be the only one in a series called Football Stadiums Seen From The Top Of A Hill.

Amazingly, I wasn’t the only one there, as it was surprisingly busy for just after 6.30am on a Monday morning.

Somehow, I ended up taking a different route down than the one I went up, and ended up in Canongate. No problem, I knew how to get back to my accommodation from there, and it gave me an excuse to call in somewhere for breakfast.

From now on, every time i’m in Edinburgh, i’m going to put an early morning trip to Arthur’s Seat on my schedule.

I’m hoping that 2020 will be the year I finish off Bray Head, do Arthur’s Seat again, and at some point between now and then, see how much of Cavehill I can do.

And then in 2021, Kilimanjaro. Just joking, I get knackered walking up Pleasance.

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EDINBLOG 2019

It’s August, and it’s the early hours of the morning. I’m at Belfast International Airport, and i’m not tagging myself on Facebook as being at The Lagan Bar because i’m too cool for that.

It can only mean one thing, my annual trip to Edinburgh.

A milestone trip for me, as this year is ten years since I first travelled to the Edinburgh Festival, and I’ve been every year since 2016. I had a good excuse for that, choosing instead to head to the European Championship in France that year.

As is tradition, I manage to be both organised and disorganised at the same time.

Going through the programme, making a (very long) shortlist of shows that interest me, before whittling them down to a daily itinerary.

That itinerary, was compiled by me scribbling in my notebook at Aldergrove.

Eventually making it into Edinburgh City Centre, I got a taxi outside Waverley Station to take me to my accommodation.

I knew I wasn’t too far away, but I didn’t know the exact location, so I got a taxi as I didn’t want to be trailing a suitcase around trying to find it.

I asked the Driver and he replied “13 Sheens”. I thought he was quoting me £13, with “Sheens” being a Scottish word for pounds.

Turns out, that’s how Sciennes is pronounced, and after a few quid changed hands, I was checking into my accommodation, which was a modern apartment.

It was in a very good location as well, right beside The Meadows, a park beside Edinburgh University. I’d walked through The Meadows and always wondered what was at the other end, and now I know.

That meant I had Guilded Balloon and Assembly almost on my doorstep, which was handy, with Pleasance being a slightly bigger stretch.

I went for a quick walk before my first show, a free show at lunchtime called What Has The News Ever Done For Me?, a panel show taking a comic look at the long running TV show, The News.

It is a show that has been running for a few years, and keeps changing venue. I went to the wrong one, because I forgot my programme and couldn’t find one in the venues I walked past. Turns out, I had to walk up Pleasance to find the correct venue. I was not anticipating a fast walk up a hill on my first day.

Amongst the topics discussed was a round where Panellists had to guess which petition on Change (100,000 means it gets discussed in Parliament) got more signatures, with a petition to get Westlife to do more concerts in Belfast getting more signatures than one to knight Tommy Robinson.

If you care, 29 people signed the petition for more Westlife concerts in Belfast.

After a spot of lunch, it was down to the Fringe Shop on the Royal Mile to purchase tickets. Thankfully, I was able to get tickets for everything I wanted.

Due to queuing up for tickets, I missed out on Socially Awkward Penguin, a free show in the afternoon.

This was the opening weekend of the month long festival, and there was a lot on. The Book Festival wasn’t though, with the venue still being assembled when I walked past it on Saturday morning.

There are a number of other events piggybacking onto the Fringe.

In North Berwick, a seaside town 35 minutes away from Edinburgh has a small event called Fringe By The Sea with some well known names, but not enough to tempt me away from Edinburgh for a few hours.

Despite that, it’s well worth keeping an eye out for the line-up. I’m still annoyed that I only found out about the event in 2017 too late to get a ticket for KT Tunstall.

In Leith, an event called EH6 At The Fringe also puts on events as an alternative for those who prefer their venues to be less crowded.

On the Friday night I arrived, there were two concerts, both at a wonderfully named venue called Dr Bell’s Bath, a former public bath now converted into an events venue.

They were by Space and Kyle Falconer, who I had both previously seen in Belfast, with Falconer doing a Q and A around his set. He was doing a three night residency there, but unfortunately, all three were sold out.

I decided that my Friday night entertainment would be a short trip to the Kingdom Of Fife to see Dunfermline Athletic take on Dundee at East End Park.

On the train journey, I could see the Forth Bridge out my window. Very impressive. I might go and try to see the First, Second and Third Bridges.

Saturday morning was spent having a gentle stroll around George Street, Grassmarket, Princes Street and Rose Street. The good thing about Edinburgh is that you can easily escape the Fringe if you want to. It’s good to do so and explore as much of the city as possible, especially when so many venues so crammed together.

After putting my feet up for a short while in late morning, I headed out for lunch before taking in my second football match of the weekend, Hibs v St Mirren at Easter Road.

Saturday night saw me head to George Heriot School, but not for lessons. That’s where the BBC Hub is based, and includes a tent for TV and radio recordings. You can also get a decent view of Edinburgh Castle if fireworks are your thing.

Initially unsuccessful, I got a flurry of tickets for BBC recordings the week before I set off. On Saturday night, it was a showcase of Scottish comedians. It had it’s own moments, but none of the eight had me wanting to see their shows. The compere, Ray Bradshaw, was funny though.

I also had tickets for recordings of a radio show hosted by Russell Kane, but I didn’t go to them. The tickets were free and as people can turn up on the day to be part of a reserve list, so it was no loss to me and someone would have benefitted from my absence.

As I left the recording on Saturday evening, I was met by rain. It took two days for it to rain in Edinburgh, that must be some sort of record.

The rain continued into Sunday morning, when it died down, I went for a stroll around Royal Mile and Victoria Street.

Sunday afternoon saw me see my first paid for show, The Beautiful Game, a look all aspects of football, weird and wonderful through the medium of dance, which was very enjoyable. It was a show that you didn’t need to be a football fan in order to enjoy it.

The venue, Zoo Playground on Infirmary Street, was a new venue for me as well. EVen after a decade, it’s always good to visit new venues.

With a bit of spare time, I spent Sunday afternoon on my now traditional Charity Shop Rummage through Newington.

The highlight was seeing some (loose) late 90s Corinthians, though at £4 each, I gave them a swerve.

With some time to kill, I loitered around Guilded Balloon, although a sudden burst of rain meant I headed indoors to wait for Keith Moon : The Real Me, a one man show where Keith talks though his life.

Whilst acknowledging he was a brilliant Drummer, it wasn’t a hagiography, not shying away from his personal flaws.

The only problem was, that Keith was talking and drumming at the same time on occasions, and you couldn’t hear him.

Despite that, it was still an enjoyable show. It was worth it for the story about the prank he pulled in Marks and Spencer.

Sunday night was spent at David O’Doherty. I can’t go to Edinburgh and not see him, he’s brilliant.

After ten years, I’ve learnt to get a mix of people I’ve seen before and people I’ve never seen. Doing one or the other wouldn’t work.

Not only was he hilarious, O’Doherty hates Vape Dicks, which makes me like him even more.

On Sunday night, I went to bed relatively early. There was a reason for that.

That’s because I was planning to walk up Arthur’s Seat.

I’d heard about it, so I decided to do it, having made a start on Bray Head last month.

I phoned for a taxi, thankfully the Driver could give me advice, dropping me off at the entrance near Royal Commonwealth Pool, as it would be the easiest place to start from.

Easy, being a relative term.

I eventually made it, the top was surprisingly busy for 6.30am. I just stood and looked over Edinburgh, it felt amazing. I could even view Easter Road. Could be the start of a niche, Football Stadiums Seen From The Top Of A Hill, Might walk up Divis to see if I can see Windsor Park.

I’m going to make this a part of every visit to Edinburgh from now on.

Back to my accommodation for a bit of a rest, I was out at lunchtime for a second helping of What Has The News Ever Done For Me? before taking in Socially Awkward Penguin by Emmy Fyles, three days later than planned.

There was no penguins in it, she just had to get a use for a penguin costume she drunkenly purchased online.

The show was about social awkwardness, and we had some unplanned social awkwardness when the sound wouldn’t work when trying to play videos, plunging the show into doubt, before two Technical Wizards in the audience, who didn’t know each other, amazingly both called Darren, saved the day.

This year saw the 50th anniversary of (NASA faking) the Moon Landings, and one show covering this was Apollo Take 111, a comic farce where a lowly Civil Servant gets a promotion, tasked with faking the moon landing.

Monday night was spent seeing Frisky and Mannish. It was their first visit since 2014. I saw them then and loved them then, so I made it my business to see them again.

They look at Pop music, analysing how some acts can be merged and fused together.

In short, Rick Astley can sing anything while Doris Day can’t.

My final show, on Tuesday morning, in the interest of balance, was about Apollo 11, and a series of simultaneous stories of how some people spent that night and how their plans changed.

I then went for a walk along Leith Walk.

Not everybody in Edinburgh is there for the whole month. I would have loved to have seen Arabella Weir of Kieran Hodgson but they weren’t performing when I was here.

I’d literally pay to watch Arabella Weir disapprovingly say “Oh for fuck sake Eric” for an hour.

If you haven’t got into Two Doors Down, do it.

With it being warm most of the time, a couple of things stood out. The most obvious being a lack of bins solely for plastic bottles, as I went through a lot. There was also a lack of water refill stations, the only one I saw was in Assembly Gardens.

Also, every venue for the shows seemed to be roasting. Surely the venues could remedy that?

The Scotsman newspaper usually set up camp at venues to give away goodie bags to people who purchase it, but not this year.

If you are stuck for what to see, newspapers are a handy resource, with The Scotsman having a daily preview guide, as well as the Scottish editions of The Times and Metro.

Venues and Promoters also produce their own booklets to promote their events. There are plenty of free books and magazines to guide you if you haven’t made your mind up.

I’m hoping to go to Euro 2020 next summer, so Edinburgh might have to have a fallow year, like Glastonbury.

While I was in Edinburgh, I got an e-mail when heading to the airport on my way home to say that the games I applied for tickets for Euro 2020 was unsuccessful.

We’ll see what my plans are for next summer.

There is still so much for me to explore in Edinburgh, i’d love to see what the city is like outside August.

This year, I’ve been fascinated by Secret Scotland on Channel 5, and Michael Potillo turning up in Scotland in his latest railway adventures.

I’d love to based myself in Glasgow or Edinburgh, and do a tour of Central Scotland.

It wasn’t all bad news when travelling back, as I found 50p when leaving the train and then discovered that Linfield were 2-1 up in their UEFA Cup tie in Montenegro.

Rangers v Linfield in the UEFA Cup? That would be a great excuse to have an extra long trip to Central Scotland.

Wether I return to Edinburgh in 2020 or 2021, i’m missing having flyers shoved in my face.

Edinblog 2018

Edinblog 2017

Edinblog 2015

Edinblog 2014

Edinblog 2013

Edinblog 2012

Edinblog 2011

Edinblog 2010

BRAY HEAD – JULY 2019

I started something, but I didn’t quite finish it.

I spent a weekend in Bray in 2014, but it was only on my last day that I noticed Bray Head, so I went to the start of it and got a view of Bray and County Wicklow.

I always had it in my head that i’d come back, so five years later, I did.

Enjoying an extended break in Dublin, I decided to make Bray part of my trip, especially with Bray Wanderers being at home.

Arriving just before 5pm, I set aside time to walk 20 minutes upwards to see how far I get. It’s not a particularly demanding route, but there are spectacular views of Bray, Wicklow and the Bray-Greystones DART.

Naturally, the trains went past when I was in a crap shooting position.

There are even seats and picnic benches on the route if you fancy a sit down.

By the time i’d arrived there, i’d already covered 30,000 steps that day walking around Dublin, so it wasn’t ideal preparation.

I wasn’t too far off the top. I really now wish i’d headed over earlier to have had that extra time.

Lesson learnt, if I am going to walk it, do it first thing in the morning.

As mentioned in my previous football blogs, I’ve applied for tickets to a couple of Euro 2020 games in Dublin.

Even if i’m unsuccessful, i’ll travel down for a game.

My plan is not to stay in Dublin, but to stay in Bray, as Lansdowne Road is on the Dublin-Bray DART route.

Naturally, i’ll use a day I wake up in Bray to walk it first thing in the morning before my legs and feet are already aching.

I managed to get some photos, but the weather was dull. Hopefully, it will be better when I arrive next year.

You can read more about Bray Head (and there’s a video) here.

That’s put me in the mood to try and walk as much of Arthur’s Seat when i’m in Edinburgh (I know I say that every year) and Cave Hill.

Photo Album

MANCHESTER SNOW

While I was in Manchester, I woke up to a snowstorm. So, I went out to get photos of it.

I didn’t have a lot of time to do so as I was heading to Sheffield, so I had to make the most of it.

It was the first time i’d been away somewhere when it was snowing since Amsterdam and Rotterdam in 2012.

As my hotel was near to Old Trafford, it was only natural I would be getting some photos of the snow covered exterior. I’m not even joking, while I was out getting photos, there were men at work clearing it driving Official Manchester United Snowplows. Probably in association with Mr Plow.

As I was walking past Old Trafford, the closest Metrolink stop was Old Trafford, so I got some photos en route.

When I arrived in Manchester City Centre, it was slush, there was nothing worth photographing.

I then headed to Sheffield by train with a window seat, and had some amazing views of the Peak District covered in snow. Unfortunately, I was unable to get any photos of that.

On the Thursday, I walked past Ordsall Hall and got some photos of it as it still had snow around it.

Photo Album

EDINBLOG 2018

A milestone trip for me, as it was my tenth trip to the Edinburgh Fringe. My first time was in 2003 when I won a place on a Workshop, but I only saw a bit of the Fringe.

My first proper trip wasn’t until 2009, and it sort of came about by fluke.

I was waiting for a bus and had a lot of time to kill. I was wondering through HMV and saw a programme for the event. Having read through it on that bus journey to Dublin, I decided to book a trip. The rest is history, and i’ve been back every year since, apart from 2016 when I went to the European Championship instead.

I have travelled over at all stages of the month long festival. There’s no bad time to visit, but if you had to choose, definitely go in the middle. At the start, things are warming up. At the end, they are winding down. In the middle, is just perfect.

My choice of dates were more influenced by convenience, as I had other plans in Belfast in August that meant the middle of the month was the only time I would be available for a sustained trip.

When I go to Edinburgh, I usually have a weekend as part of my time there, but this time was different, as I stayed from Monday to Friday.

One advantage of being in Edinburgh on a Monday or Tuesday is that a lot of the shows have discounted ticket prices on those days.

The one downside of arriving in the middle of the event is, that some performers usually have a day or two days off during the middle week, so people you might want to see aren’t actually performing.

It’s not essential, but it is helpful if you get a copy of the programme (They are usually free in Waterstones) and have a plan, even if it is provisional, of what you want to see.

I might sound like i’m very organised, but the truth is I only finalised my list less then twelve hours before I flew out.

Upon arrival, I headed straight to the main Ticket Office in the Royal Mile, and got everything I wanted bar one, unable to get a ticket for Dylan Moran on Wednesday, or any other day unfortunately. I still had two days to get something sorted.

If you did arrive undecided about what to see, there are plenty of people and listings guides that are more than willing to help you decide what to see.

When you arrive at Edinburgh Airport, they have complimentary newspapers at Arrivals, including the Scottish Edition of The Times, which has a free pull-out. Of the papers you have to buy, The Scotsman and Edinburgh Evening News also have listings guides.

If you buy a copy of The Scotsman at a venue, you get a free goodie bag.

When I got mine on the Monday, it had a poncho in it, which was useful, unlike the free Suncream I got last year. We are in Scotland for crying out loud.

Another newspaper worth getting is the Scottish Edition of Metro, which is also free and comes with a section dedicated to the Edinburgh Festival.

Metro is also worth picking up for Rush Hour Crush, to laugh at the absolute oddballs who submit to it. I really wish we had Metro in Northern Ireland.

Each venue also has their own listings guide as well. Basically, there is plenty of reading material if you still haven’t decided what to see.

Earlier, when I referred to getting ready, that meant practicing my apologetic “I’m fine, thanks” to Flyerers, as you will be offered a lot of flyers during your stay.

As I arrived in Edinburgh, the weather was what would be described by locals as pishing doon, that’s rain to you and me. It would be that way for most of the week.

Thankfully, I had paid for early check-in. It wasn’t the weather for killing time, so I chanced it by seeing if I could check-in earlier than my early check-in, and my room was ready.

So, I unloaded my baggage and had a quick change into drier clothes, and my Edinburgh 2018 was ready to go.

My accommodation was in Cowgate, a brilliant location. Royal Mile, Waverley Station, Pleasance and Edinburgh University are all within a ten minute walk. I would make the most of this during the week.

Being a regular visitor to Edinburgh, I know how to navigate my way around the city. My first port of call was to Edinburgh University, where Assembly and Guilded Balloon were based, having a walk around the venue. There wasn’t a lot of people about, not that unsurprising due to the weather.

Monday was never going to be a busy day, but in late afternoon, I went to my first show, Battle Of The Superheroes, where four Comedians put their point across as to why their favourite Superhero is the best.

There seemed to be crossed wires as a lot of children turned up for the show, only to be told that it wasn’t really appropriate for kids.

You don’t have to be massively into comic books to enjoy the show. I don’t know the difference between DC and DC Thomson, nevermind DC and Marvel, and I still enjoyed.

The winner of this one was Mr Freeze (yes, you read that right) where it was argued that a lot of trouble could be avoided if Bruce Wayne just employed him to do Medical Research.

My main show on the Monday was Reginald D Hunter at EICC, a venue which is a bit remote from the main Fringe venues. This was acknowledged by Hunter during his set, saying that he keeps getting further away with his venues, his Edinburgh show next year will be in Glasgow.

Hunter is a big fan of the MF Word and a lot of other words you can’t say on TV. He was very funny, talking about how living in the UK for twenty years has made him appreciate irony around some of the events that happen when he visits his family in America.

On Tuesday morning, I went for a walk around George Street and Rose Street. It is good to escape from the Fringe for a while and see as much of the city as possible.

I also visited the site of Edinburgh Book Festival at Charlotte Square. Unfortunately, the events I wanted to see at it were taking place before or after my stay in Edinburgh. I had wanted to see Archie MacPherson do a talk, but ironically, it clashed with a football match I wanted to see.

What amused me was that Brian May was doing a talk about the history of photography. He was joined by a Professor called Roger Taylor. Yes, actually.

Another event which takes place at the same time is Fringe By The Sea, in North Berwick, a seaside town half an hour away by train which hosts concerts and shows. Unfortunately, the event had finished by the time I arrived, but i’ll be keeping an eye out for listings in future years in case our paths cross.

After escaping from the rain, it was time for my first show of the day, Hello Georgie Goodbye Best, a play about George Best’s lost weekend with Sinead Cusack in 1971.

Appropriately, for a show about football, it started at 3pm, although this was on a Tuesday afternoon, it was a show that will have spent a lot of it’s budget replacing smashed cutlery and dead fish.

Football was very much the theme of Tuesday, as in the evening I headed to Ainslie Park to see Edinburgh City take on Albion Rovers in the Scottish Challenge Cup.

Wednesday morning was spent in the University Area, hunting for bargains in the Charity Shops and Independent Shops in that area, as well as checking out some new murals that have appeared as part of a Community Project.

As it had just started raining, I decided to head to a free show, What Has The News Ever Done For Me?, where Comedian passionately argue why their favourite news story is the most important story in the world.

Problem was, I went to the venue it was held in last year, and it had moved.

I decided to cut my losses and go elsewhere, unaware that the venue it was in was across the street. Doh.

With a six hour gap in my schedule, I was looking for a show for late afternoon or early evening. I narrowed my choices down to Angela Barnes or Lucy Porter.

I decided to use the most foolproof model and let the people decide, and a Twitter Poll went in Lucy Porter’s favour.

Wednesday afternoon was spent at a recording of Matt Forde’s Political Party Podcast, the guest in this edition was John Swinney.

Going to see Lucy Porter represented my first visit to visit Pleasance, my favourite Fringe venue.

I’m trying to avoid sounding like a pompous wanker who uses words like “Vibe”, but there is a great vibe about Pleasance.

I’d seen Lucy Porter before, on my first proper visit in 2009, and she was once again very funny, focusing on the, um, joys and agony of middle age.

Wednesday night was spent seeing Tape Face, formerly known as The Boy With Tape On His Face, who I had seen before.

As with the times before, I was crying with laughter, and even dancing to The Twist, like the rest of the audience.

Thursday morning was spent having a stroll along Leith Walk, checking out some of the Independent Shops, before going to see What Has The News Ever Done For Me?, this time making it to the right venue.

Thursday afternoon was spent at Paul Merton’s Impro Chums.

As the title suggests, you don’t quite know what is going to happen, and I don’t think anyone was expecting to be, um, treated to Merton taking his top off for their, um, pleasure.

On Thursday night, I went to see Brendon Burns. I only knew of him due to a video clip of him taking the piss out of Scousers.

He entered the stage ridiculously happy, as he had to cancel his previous shows due to Tonsillitis. He came in carrying an energy drink, who he approached to sponsor his podcast, but they declined due to suggested jingles.

He was rude, sweary, obnoxious and offensive. I loved every minute of it.

Friday morning was spent chilling at the BBC Base, now at George Heriot’s School having moved from Potterow. As there is now a building where their Potterow base was, it looks like they will be at George Heriot’s from now on.

There are usually free events and recordings taking place there, if you are stuck for something to do.

Even though I was heading home that night, there was still time for one last show, Super Sonic 90s Kid, a 90s nostalgiafest hosted by Sooz Kempner.

It had it’s moments, but not a lot of them. I would have been better signing off with Brendon Burns.

It was another trip to Edinburgh for me where I didn’t visit Arthur’s Seat. I promise i’ll try to trek up it in 2019.

Unless you go for the full month, you will always miss something you want to see. The night I left, Paloma Faith did a concert in Princes Street Gardens, which I would have loved to have gone to.

It wasn’t all perfect as the city suffered from overcrowding. In recent years it has been suggested to extend the dates of it, or to spread it around the city.

All the venues being so close to each other is why the event is so convenient. If it was spread out around the city, the problem is, Edinburgh doesn’t really have the public transport infrastructure to accommodate.

It doesn’t really help matters that people are thick as shit.

Remember when you started school? What was the first thing you learnt? Walk on the left, it’s surprisingly effective.

People seemed to be genuinely horrified that I was not prepared to walk on the road when cars were driving past just to accommodate them.

The problem was even worse during Commuter O’Clock when people were coming home from work.

Of the acts I didn’t see, it felt sacrilegious to go to Edinburgh and not see David O’Doherty. I had Kieran Hodgson on my To See List, but didn’t get a ticket. Judging by the reviews and the buzz around him, I really regretted it.

Despite his poster being plastered all over Edinburgh, it wasn’t until I read an interview with him in Metro that I realised he is Gordon from Two Doors Down.

If you haven’t seen Two Doors Down, you should get into it.

My return to Belfast didn’t see the end of the comedy, as I headed to The Odyssey to see The League Of Gentlemen. Every bit as good as the TV show, I was crying laughing at times.

So, that was Edinburgh over for me for another year. All being well, i’ll be back in 2019.

Edinblog 2017

Edinblog 2015

Edinblog 2014

Edinblog 2013

Edinblog 2012

Edinblog 2011

Edinblog 2010

LONDON STREET ART JANUARY 2018

As you will have seen from my previous blog post, I was in London over the previous weekend. It wasn’t exclusively for Street Art, but it would have been rude not to get some photos.

I had been to London previously before, so I knew where I wanted to go. Camden and Shoreditch were high on my list.

As my train from the Airport was terminating at Liverpool Street, this gave me a great opportunity to check out Shoreditch.

Well, it would have, if I didn’t wander about and get lost.

I cheated a wee bit by referring to London’s Tourism Website, which informed me that Spitalfields was a good place to visit. I had passed it on my travels, so made an about turn and headed for there.

How right it was. I spotted one piece, decided to walk to the end of the street, then saw more pieces on the next street, and decided to walk to the end of that street to see what there was …. and repeat. I think I covered every street in Spitalfields, which included pieces by Falko and Dan Kitchener, who have recently done pieces in Belfast.

I stumbled onto more Street Art and eventually found Shoreditch. From previous experience, Car Park Attendants were a bit dickish when I tried to snap pieces in Car Parks, so I had to do quick snaps of those pieces rather than setting myself up.

Smokers are a pain in the arse at the best of times, but they all decided to congregate outside Mercure Hotel in Shoreditch, denying me the opportunity of shooting a mural outside it.

There was also a piece with Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un being in a band called The Psychos.

By the middle of Friday afternoon, I already had enough Street Art photos to fill a blog for the entire weekend.

On Saturday morning, I headed to Brixton to see the David Bowie mural in it’s current form. I had previously seen the mural, finding it by accident, when I visited Brixton in 2014. It is a rarity amongst David Bowie murals in that it was actually painted when he was alive.

When he died in 2016, the mural became a shrine and meeting point for fans to share their grief.

The core of the mural is now covered in Perspex due to the number of fans writing messages over it. There is now a sign asking fans to write around it and not on it, as well as flowers left by fans at the bottom of the mural.

Not far from the Bowie mural is a mural of the poem The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe, though that has fallen into a state of disrepair.

I walked around Brixton, and stumbled upon some pieces around Brixton Market, including a tribute to various Rappers.

I then headed to Camden, a hotspot for Street Art and found a lot of pieces walking from Camden Underground Station to Camden Lock.

Camden Underground Station is exit only, so I had to travel to Mornington Crescent Underground Station for my onward journey, and the diversion was a stroke of luck, as I spotted more pieces, although it was hard to get photos due to parked vehicles causing an obstruction.

Sunday was spent visiting the more clichéd touristy parts of London, so I didn’t get as much photos as in the previous days, though I did spot a mural just off Carnaby Street.

Heading home on Monday night, Monday was never going to be a busy day, but I made a point to visit Leake Street Tunnel near Waterloo Station, a tunnel dedicated to Street Art which has multi-coloured lighting, which made for some decent photos.

As stated in my main blog about London, I was tempted by the idea of a day trip to Brighton at some point, as it would have been nice to have visited there for the day and get some Street Art photos.

Can’t complain about my lot. Every time I visit London, I seem to find more and more hidden Street Art gems. Hope you enjoy this round-up.

Photo Album 1

Photo Album 2

London Street Art 2016

London Street Art 2014

Camden Street Art 2013

LONDON

A week and a bit ago, I headed to London for a short break. It’s fair to say I enjoyed myself.

Why London? Usually, in late January or early February, I like to go away somewhere for a weekend.

I would have preferred to go to Mainland Europe, but there wasn’t a lot of value when I went to book it. September 2017 was a busy month for me so I didn’t get a chance to book anything until October.

London was a lazy option, but still a good option. I’d been before previously and enjoyed myself.

This was my first proper visit to London since 2014. I had been in London briefly in 2016, spending a day there as I was flying home from Gatwick after a stay in Paris.

However, I would not be flying in and out of Gatwick. My previous visits to London had seen me use Gatwick, but this time, I would be flying in and out of Stansted.

There would also be a change in my accommodation arrangements from my previous London visits as well. In my two previous stays in 2013 and 2014, I stayed in Paddington, but this time I would be staying at Easyhotel in Victoria. I would have to make do without a TV of Wifi in my room, but getting three nights in Central London for £87, I couldn’t really complain.

Flying into Stansted meant I would be travelling through London, and I got to see cranes that were working on Northumberland Development Project, better known as Spurs New Ground, from the train window.

Whenever I go away somewhere, there are two things I really want to see – Street Art and Football.

With the train from Stansted terminating at Liverpool Street, it gave me a perfect opportunity to search for Street Art, as I would be near to Shoreditch, where I had visited on my previous visit in 2014.

I walked around a bit and got lost, so I cheated by referring to the internet, London’s Tourism website has a feature on Street Art.

After lunch, I headed back towards Liverpool Street, racking up the step count. Yep, I got an Activity Tracker for Christmas, so i’ve become one of those guys. In case you care, I had four successive days going over 30,000 steps. You’ve no idea how much my feet hurt.

I stumbled into Spitalfields and specifically, Spitalfields Market. What a place. I’m annoyed at myself that I only discovered it on this visit.

Having walked past a man in a Coleraine shirt at Liverpool Street Station, I got a reminder of Irish League when I visited a stall of Scrabble Art, motivational phrases spelt out with Scrabble letters, one of which said “Fortune Favours The Brave”. A more apt one for Linfield players would have been the one that said “Keep it simple”.

£30 though, so I gave it a miss.

Spitalfields Market had lots of fantastic independent and quirky stalls. I really am annoyed at myself for only discovering it on this visit.

Having checked London’s Tourism Website, I was aware that there was a lot of Street Art in Spitalfields, so I went to check it out.

I used my instinct and stumbled upon pieces. I kept saying to myself that i’ll just walk to the end of the street, then spot something on the next street, and I just kept walking and walking, snapping loads of Street Art, only stopping to pop into a Vintage Market I stumbled onto. If I ever visit London again, i’m going to make Spitalfields a place I visit.

By Friday afternoon, it was time to check into my hotel. As stated earlier, it was Easyhotel in Victoria, a very convenient location for getting to and a very conveniently located hotel.

I was in Room 13. Thankfully, i’m not supersticious about that number. It might have been a different matter if it was Room 9 after seeing the Hotel Zanzibar episode of inside Number 9.

Just thought i’d sneak it in about how Inside Number 9 is the best thing on TV at the moment.

My original plan was to visit Camden as soon as I checked in, but having spent so much time walking around Spitalfields, I was a bit behind schedule.

I wanted to get Street Art photos in Camden, but with the sky getting darker, I decided I would leave that until Saturday morning. I had a teatime appointment in Covent Garden.

I was aware that Turin Brakes were doing an instore gig at Fopp in Covent Garden, so I decided to head over. I loved them back in 2001, and I was getting a free concert, so it would have been rude not to.

I headed to Covent Garden Underground Station to the venue. Did you know that Covent Garden Underground Station has 193 steps from the Platform to the Exit? I do. I found that out the hard way.

The funny thing is, I saw a massive queue of people wanting to use the list. I thought they were being lazy. Turns out they were smart. I won’t be making that mistake again if I visit Covent Garden.

After the instore gig, I went for a gentle stroll around Covent Garden, before getting a bite to eat before finding a bar to watch the United match, before heading to bed or a (relatively) early night.

When you are in London, you can take advantage of free publications such as Time Out or Metro to see what is on, which is what I did.

On Saturday morning, I headed to Brixton. I wanted to see the David Bowie mural in it’s current form. I had previously seen the mural in 2014. When he died in 2016, it became a shrine to him and a meeting point for fans to share their grief. There’ll be a write-up on the Bowie mural on the Street Art blog which will follow this.

During my time in Brixton, I spotted and snapped Street Art, checking out Brixton Market, and taking a stroll along Electric Avenue, immortalised in song by Eddy Grant.

After Brixton, it was Camden next for me, for pretty much the same thing, snapping Street Art and checking out the market. Every time I go to London, I make a point to visit Camden. The only downside is that it is infested with smelly tramps puffing on fags and vapes. Not cool. It really drags down the standard of the place.

Camden Underground Station is exit only, so to leave Camden, I had to get The Tube at Mornington Crescent. I took advantage of this detour by stumbling onto some more Street Art.

Saturday afternoon was spent watching Millwall v Rochdale in the FA Cup.

I checked the listings guides and there were some comedy gigs on, but I decided to go for a bite to eat, and then relax.

Up early, Sunday morning was spent being all touristy, having a walk around the main City Centre shopping areas such as Leicester Square, Carnaby Street, Soho, Covent Garden and Trafalgar Square.

Another day, another market, having a stroll though Covent Garden Market, and catching part of an entertainment show by Covent Nick.

I then headed back to Brixton to purchase stuff that I had my eye on the previous day (I didn’t want to take loads of shopping bags to a football match) before heading to The London Studios for the recording of Unspun for Dave.

Unfortunately, I got lost, and found myself at the back of the queue, meaning that I missed out on getting a seat. There is compensation that I can get priority tickets for future TV recordings, so at least I can bank that for use at some point in the future.

I took the opportunity with my unexpected free time to walk along Southbank and check out Southbank Book Market, and taking in some of the views on offer at Southbank, before putting my feet up for the night.

Monday was a more relaxed day. Not going to lie, I was very tempted by a day trip to Brighton, especially as I was staying near to the train station that serves Brighton from London. If I was flying out from Gatwick, I would definitely done so, as there is a train direct from Brighton to Gatwick which is just over half and hour. If I go to London again, I might book an extra day and set it aside to go to Brighton.

I took the opportunity to head back to Southbank and walk along Jubliee Greenway. I was even able to see the Houses of Parliament, but as I have minimal interest in politics, I found it a bit meh to be honest. I was more excited at seeing the roof of Spurs new ground.

There was one last piece of Street Art for me to spot, calling in to see Leake Street Tunnel on my way back to Waterloo Station as I headed back to Spitalfields Market for a bit of lunch and relaxation before heading to Stansted to fly home.

As previously stated, I stayed in Paddington on my previous visits to London, changing to Victoria for this one. I like Paddington, and I enjoyed my stays there, but if I go back to London, I would try to use Victoria again, especially as you can have the option of a day trip to Brighton on your last day if I was flying back from Gatwick.

At the end of it, I had very sore feet and a lot of photos to sort through. I guess that was the sign of a good trip.

London 2013

London 2014

London 2016

EDINBLOG 2017

After a one year absence, I was back at the Edinburgh Festival.

I didn’t go last year as I went to the European Championship in France instead.

Not going to lie, August 2016 was unbearable, as I follow a lot of performers and venues on Social Media and all they did was post about Edinburgh. It was like hearing about a party you weren’t at.

I decided to go over for the opening weekend. There’s no bad time to go, it’s brilliant all month. From experience, the festival is at it’s best in the middle as you can find them just getting warmed up at the start and winding down at the end.

As I say, there is no bad time to go, and I began to count down from the moment I had the trip booked.

Part of the countdown is getting the programme and circling through it. Lots and lots of circling.

It’s not essential, but it does help if you plan what you want to see in advance. So, I created a database (stop laughing) and plotted my schedule of what I wanted to see.

However, I got lazy and forgot to book them in advance, so I would be gambling on purchasing them on my first day.

Thankfully, it wasn’t too bad. I got all I wanted, albeit having to rearrange the days I saw them to what was planned.

There was a mildly amusing (I’m downgrading it in order to manage expectations) moment when I asked the woman at the counter if Grainne Maguire’s free lunchtime show was ticketed and she replied “Grainne with a fada?”.

I thought her computer was case sensitive but it turned out she was asking if I was wanting to see Grainne Maguire’s other show she was doing.

I went to see What Has The News Ever Done For Me? hosted by Grainne Maguire, where a panel of comedians put forward a case as to why their light hearted news story of choice is the most important story in the world.

The show was ok, but I imagine it will get better throughout the month. What we did learn is that Maguire’s knowledge of Scottish politics is that Labour Leader Kezia Dugdale has a new girlfriend, with Maguire revealing that she once bought a dress because Dugdale wore it.

We also had people loitering outside, unsure if they wanted to see the show. They disappeared before the end of the show.

Despite a year away, I still hadn’t lost the knack of politely declining flyers and apologetically replying “I’m fine thanks”, a phrase I would say quite a lot over the weekend.

On my first day there, the weather didn’t disappoint. When I say it didn’t disappoint, I mean, I expected rain and got lots of it.

I went for a walk to Potterow where building work meant that the BBC’s location had been moved to nearby George Heriot’s School.

I only applied for one show, Steve Wright In The Afternoon on my first day there, and was unsuccessful.

While heading back from Potterow, The Scotsman were selling copies where you get a free goody bag. This include free sun cream …… as the rain continued to fall. Even the Newspaper Sellers in Edinburgh think they’re comedians.

As I headed into Edinburgh from the Airport, I browsed through the listings in Metro and saw an event which caught my eye called Fringe By The Sea, a counter event in North Berwick, a 30 minute train journey away.

KT Tunstall was playing on the Monday while I was there, but it was sold out.

Another concert I was unaware of until I arrived was Madness performing at Falkirk Stadium on the first day I arrived. Falkirk is only 30 minutes from Edinburgh by train.

No point crying over what I missed out on.

On the Friday teatime I went to see What Bowie Did Next looking at what David Bowie did when he entered heaven.

It wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t something i’d preach about to others. There were some fluffed lines, but they weren’t disastrous due to some quick thinking and audience interaction, and we did get to see Jimi Hendrix as portrayed by Jim Broadbent.

Friday accidentally became a themed day of dead people as my next show starred Margaret Thatcher. Well, probably someone in costume as her.

Thatcher Queen Of Game Shows is the follow-up to Thatcher Queen Of Sho, where Maggie now hosts a Game Show where plebs battle it out for benefits.

As I queued outside, Thatcher came out to inform the crowd that the show was delayed due to technical issues, blaming them on Theresa May.

She even apologised for the delay. That was very uncharacteristic for her. She didn’t apologise for the rain though.

The show pitted Skivers against Strivers. I was sat in the Skivers section, as we were treated to Angela Merkel rapping and Nicola Sturgeon in puppet form. Seriously, go see it.

Saturday morning was spent visiting Grassmarket and walking around the general Princes Street area, before catching some football as Edinburgh City took on Montrose,

By Saturday teatime, Edinburgh was now bathed in sunshine and that free sun cream was coming in handy, as I headed to Pleasance to see Matt Forde with a show titled that it was hastily rewritten.

He covers Politics and, i’m not sure if you’ve noticed recently, but Politics is fucked up these days.

You don’t have to be into Politics to enjoy the show, as he talks about loving the way Paul Nuttall says “Fisheries” and not much else about him.

Sunday morning was spent looking for bargains in the charity shops near Potterow and visiting Royal Mile Market as Edinburgh got treated to more rain.

By this point, The Scotsman were now giving out ponchos to anyone who bought it.

I’d left a gap on Monday for KT Tunstall, but i’d resigned myself to not going, so I set about getting tickets for Monday.

I purchased one for The Damned United. I’d hoped to see James Acaster but he was sold out, so Monday night was still free.

On Sunday teatime I went to see a show called Ringo starring Alexander Fox, about his obsession with Ringo Starr.

His accent when impersonating Starr sounded a bit Yorkshire, but a quick audio montage during the show revealed that Ringo’s accent goes all over the place.

Fox stated that he couldn’t afford an agent of flyers as he spent all his budget on a drum kit to perform on stage during the show.

However, I saw Flyerers for his show on the Monday, so he must have had a good weekend.

On the Sunday evening, I went to see Whose Line Is It Anyway? which was worth it to see Phill Jupitus do Bollywood.

I toyed with the idea of getting up early on Monday to walk Arthur’s Seat, but slept in. Try again in 2018.

I walked around Edinburgh on Monday morning, really realising how much I miss going to MacAulay and Co on weekday mornings, with the show having been cancelled by BBC Scotland in 2015.

So, what to do on Monday night?

Monday lunchtime was a free show called Circled In the Radio Times by John Osborne about inheriting his Grandad’s old editions of Radio Times and being able to pinpoint the exact moment he stopped watching Eastenders. It involved a Mitchell family feud.

Monday teatime was spent watching a stage version of The Damned United.

We even got a programme. Well, a sheet listing the cast, but i’m counting it as a programme.

It was very sweary, with some of Brian Clough’s mannerisms being spot on.

I wouldn’t say it’s the best play about Brian Cough at this year’s Fringe, but it’s in the top one.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t run for 44 days.

Warning, it’s very sweary.

Monday night was spent seeing Fred MacAulay at The Stand.

I’ve been a fan for a while but never got round to seeing as I usually went to his BBC show for free so didn’t feel the need to.

He observed his level of fame as being people know his name but don’t know his name and shared his fear that he might be related to Donald Trump.

So, that was it, my Edinburgh was over for another year and I flew back to Belfast on Tuesday morning.

One downside is that when you go, there will be some acts you miss. Here are some i’d suggest if you are heading over that I would have loved to have seen but they weren’t on when I was there :

Fred MacAulay In Conversation

Iain Connell

Limmy

Live At The Pleasance

Mark Watson

In Conversation With Amy MacDonald

Mr Laurel and Mr Hardy

So that is me, until August 2018 when it will be uphill walks, apologising to flyerers, rain, and most importantly, a good time.

Edinblog 2015

Edinblog 2014

Edinblog 2013

Edinblog 2012

Edinblog 2011

Edinblog 2010

DUBLIN STREET ART – JULY 2017

Spent two days in Dublin recently, and naturally was out with my camera getting some Street Art shots.

I usually go to Dublin once a year, usually for a day trip or an overnight visit. It isn’t specifically with Street Art in mind, but it’s there, so I might as well photograph it.

Usually when I visit a city, I usually wander about, and Dublin was no different.

However, I know where to go, and the first two places I visited were Smithfield and Temple Bar.

While I was in Smithfield, I got a picture of a mural of Romelu Lukaku. Well, that is if you work for Dublin Herald.

Once thing that was noticeable was the number of electric boxes that had been painted. This is part of a project aimed at brightening up the city. You can find it’s website here.

The first one I saw was one of Phil Lynott. Unfortunately, I only discovered about there being one of Father Ted and Father Dougal after I left Dublin.

I had a look at bus/train timetables and Waterford can be reached from Dublin in two hours. Why is that relevant? The city hosts an event called Waterford Walls, and is somewhere I want to visit to check out Street Art.

A Dublin/Waterford double header in 2018 sounds very tempting.

Photo Album

Dublin Street Art May 2016

Dublin Street Art June 2015

Dublin Street Art July 2014

Dublin Street Art August 2013

PARIS STREET ART

As you’ve gathered by my last post, I was in Paris recently. I took the opportunity to get some Street Art photos. They were all pieces I stumbled upon rather than searching for.

I didn’t get a chance to go on any official tour. I would have liked to.

The images of the Statue Of Liberty are from the back of Gare Du Nord. There are even some pieces from one of the exits to Gare Du Nord.

Sadly, I have no idea of the location of any other pieces.

Photo Album